This paper reflects upon the temporal characteristics of the emerging phenomenon known as the ‘Internet of Things’. As objects become individually tagged with unique identities through the addition of small electronic chips or bar codes, their history is recorded and made available to others across a network. The advent of this ever-growing catalogue of histories means that every object will be ‘in touch’ with its current and previous owner at all times and suggests that while we as owners might like to ‘forget’ about an object, we will never truly be detached from them.
However the author suggests that there exists a social and cultural inertia that is tied to a teleological perception of time and that the weight of this is hampering opportunities for the Internet of Things to embrace old things. The paper uses a series of cultural coordinates to explore our relationship with personal and social histories including the use of cosmetic surgery to correct hereditary characteristics and films from the last five years that demonstrate a more creative approach to understanding the past. Ultimately the author uses a research project that he is involved in to explore the potential for digital technology to network the past and develop an ‘Internet of Old Things’.